Money saving workshop tips from the World Cup Downhill circuit
Words by David “Sanny” Gould
If there are a group of riders who put the greatest demands on their mechanics, it surely has to be the pros on the World Cup Downhill circuit. Where even just a fraction of a second can mean the difference between a place on the podium and obscurity, they expect their mechanics to deliver them the marginal gains that can save that all important fraction of a second.
Fortunately we have a seasoned World Cup and World Championship honed professional mechanic on tap who is happy to share the secrets of the pros. Step forward Carl Geeson, owner of Bikelove in Glasgow and occasional media darling (you may recognise him as Ruaraidh Cunningham’s mechanic when his World Championship winning season was capture in “Home” or have seen his name in credits for teaching Euan McGregor to ride a fixie for the film “Perfect Sense”). Over a coffee, we managed to pick his brains and extract some of his favourite tips for keeping your bike running smoothly. Some you may be familiar with but others will come as a surprise.
1- Keep em clean.
Almost every mechanic you see these days will use some form of gloves when working on a bike but having a couple of pairs stashed in your pack can be a gold plated good thing. Aside from not getting your hands filthy when having to change brake pads or repair a broken chain, they can also be used when administering first aid. If caught out in heavy rain without a change of gloves, slipping a pair underneath your riding gloves can help keep your digits warm. You will get sweaty but better that than frozen!
2 – Can of ginger to the rescue
..(or pop, to our southern readers). Ever find your seat post slips no matter how hard you cinch down your seat post collar? You’ve tried other seat posts in the right size but the same thing keeps happening? Fear not for a carefully cut rectangle of thin aluminium from a can of ginger can be inserted between your seat post collar and the frame. Just be sure to file down the sharp edges so as not to slice your hand open when fixing it. My original Turner 5 Spot had this fix which lasted over four years. As fixes go, it’s cheap and effective. Just make sure you drink the contents first!
3 – Save your seals, stop the mud.
Depending on which front fork you are running, you may well have cross hatches on your fork brace. While these add strength, they are also the perfect location and design to fill with mud and gloop which then runs down onto your fork seals. A carefully positioned piece of Gorilla Tape stops the mud building up in the first place. It’s low tech but effective.
4 – Keep your ass clean with a mudguard extender.
If, like me, you find that even with a mudguard fitted, your ass still has that tell-tale strip of strangely brown moistness up it, a simple solution is to extend your rear mudguard. An old plastic bottle of ginger cut into the shape of a flap and some Gorilla Tape are all you need. It may look a bit Heath Robinson but it is a small price to pay for a clean and dry butt.
5 – Struggling to see in the rain?
Unless you have a full face helmet on, chances are that you could benefit from a longer peak on your helmet. Taking an old and scratched goggle lens, a tearaway goggle cover or the eponymous plastic bottle of ginger and gorilla tape, it’s easy to fashion an extender for those truly foul rides.
6 – Maximise your grip.
Riding I the wet and slop can be an awful lot of fun but frantically grabbing at your slippy brake lever with sodden wet gloves? Hmmm, not so much! An easy pro trick is to get some old emery paper or skateboard grip tape and stick it to your brake levers. As a fix, it’ll last only a handful of rides but it will give you the grip and confidence you need on foul days. Suntour used to do this with their XC Pro series brake levers and it is a shame that this idea has fallen by the wayside. Time to resurrect it methinks.
7 – Noisy chain device ripping your knitting?
Here is the perfect solution. Velcro. Yup, Velcro. Where the chain rubs against your device, place some sticky backed soft sided Velcro at the contact points. This will act to deaden the sound without increasing the level of drag. It will of course wear out over time but for the sake of a fix that costs only a few pence, it’s not going to break the bank.
8 – Extend the life of your frame by sealing the weld breathing holes.
When we all used to ride steel bikes, rust was inevitably going to be the final nail in the frames coffin. As such, we used to do things such as squirt wax based aerosol lube into the weld holes to coat the inside of the frame or buy pre-sealed frames from the likes of Fat Chance. With aluminium frames, there are still potential corrosion issues so waxing or sealing off the frame can help prevent water getting in in the first place.
9 – Keep your frame cable rub free.
It’s astonishing to think just how much damage a cable outer rubbing against a frame can do to your steed. There are all manner of solutions available. Gorilla Tape is an obvious one at the rub points. However, 3M now make a thin mastic tape that can be formed and shaped to fit under cables. It has the advantage of being slightly thicker than Gorilla Tape meaning that it should last just that bit longer.
So there you have it. 9 top tips from the pros. Hopefully you will have learned something new in our little list. Look out for more top tips coming soon from Carl’s crafty mind of fixes.
Coming up in part two. DIY dropper post mud guards & coke can caliper protection.